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September 30, 2010

Sade kicks off first global tour in decade at 1st Mariner Arena

British pop singer Sade will kick off her first tour in a decade in Baltimore, she announced today.

Sade, the singer of "Smooth Operator," is one of the most commercially successful British artists, but she's been mainly off the charts for the last decade.

Her new album, "Soldier of Love," though, went platinum earlier this year, and has received critical acclaim.

Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena will be the first stop on the tour, which kicks off June 16, 2011. Ten other cities have been confirmed, not including Washington.

Tickets go on sale October 16 at

photo: Epic

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:51 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: News

Kingsley Flood, accidental Americana band, play Golden West Cafe Friday

56426259.jpgKingsley Flood is an Americana band by accident.

Two years ago, lead  singer Naseem Khuri, 30, was another graduate student slumming it in Cambridge and pursuing a master's in public policy at Harvard.

But through a roommate ad, he wound up living next door to Nick Balkin, a 30-year-old guitarist who was then playing with a Boston band, and the two struck a friendship and a working relationship.

You might say Craigslist made him a rock 'n' roller.

"I was gonna do some fancy international relations job," said Khuri, who now lives in Washington. "I never set out to be in a rock 'n' roll band. I just had these songs tucked away."

Friday, he and the other five members of Kingsley Flood play Hampden's Golden West Cafe as part of their first multi-city tour.

To read the rest of this story, click here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News

September 29, 2010

Review: The Gaslight Anthem at Rams Head Live

On Tuesday night at Ram’s Head, The Gaslight Anthem proved that there is still music out there that doesn’t just consist of a dance beat, a repeating 3-chord progression and serious Auto-Tune.

This alternative band (vocalist Fallon, guitarist Alex Rosamilia, bassist Alex Levine and drummer Benny Horowitz) performed for a very packed Ram’s Head  - a crowd that consisted of mostly 20-something rock fans (and a guy in a banana suit) - held the audience captive through the end.

From their initial entrance to the stage -- accompanied by Alien Ant Farm’s Michael Jackson cover “Smooth Criminal” -- to their encore performance, the energy level in the room never wavered.

Gaslight didn’t stop to play between every song to idly talk with the crowd, or to exchange private jokes amongst themselves. They just played right through. They’re old school rock 'n' roll: a lead guitar backed by a stabilizing rhythm guitar; steady and intricate bass lines; and a consistent and heavy drum beat. Fallon has a raspy, classic rock voice, and Horowitz’s drumming is a perfectly executed array of crashes.

And yet, songs like “Even Cowgirls Get Blues” and “Old White Lincoln” tell stories in the manner of  their influences, such as Tom Petty and Johnny Cash. During “Blue Jeans and White T Shirts,” a dozen fans actually raised their lighters.

Other songs like “The Queen of Lower Chelsea,” “Angry Johnny and the Radio,” and “Film Noir” were more upbeat. The ’59 Sound, their breakout single, had everyone jumping.

Gaslight is touring with their new album, “American Slang.” The band concluded the hour-and-a- half-long set with a five-song encore of some of their older work.

Set list:

High Lonesome
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Diamond Church Street Choir
Old White Lincoln
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
The ’59 Sound
Bring It On
Miles Davis and the Cool
Queen of Lower Chelsea
Stay Lucky
I’da Called You Woody, Joe
Angry Johnny and the Radio
Film Noir
Blue Jeans and White T Shirts
Great Expectations

Boomboxes and Dictionaries
Here’s Looking at You Kid

- Michael Correlli 

Michael Correlli is a first time contributor to Midnight Sun. He’s a mass communications junior at Towson University and writes for the student-run newspaper, The Towerlight. While at Bamboozle Music Festival, he almost got hit by Ke$ha’s golf cart. Almost.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:12 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Concert reviews

Last Night's Photo: Red, Red, White and Blue

A young singer performs at the Baltimore Book Festival, by flickr user fwredelius. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

What are Baltimore's top 25 bars?

Readers, we're working on a list of the best bars in the city. Not strictly sports bars, which Midnight Sun ranked last weekend. Just best bars.

Rankings are subjective and arbitrary, but like the old TV Guide or the a farmer's almanac they help us organize our increasingly chaotic lives.

So, best bars? What makes it the best is not just price, or its menu. It should also be character, history, and its customers. 

Write your suggestions in the comments. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:43 AM | | Comments (125)
Categories: Bar stories

Sascha's 527 on Charles Street is expanding

PX00166_9.JPGSascha's 527 is adding a bar to its restaurant.

Customers of the Charles Street restaurant have long known a set-up that includes a lunch menu friendly to nearby office workers, and a salad bar afterward.

But owner Sascha Wolhandler is transforming the salad bar into just a bar after the lunch hour. 

"We'll be like a bipolar restaurant," she says. "When lunch ends, the sneeze guard comes down, the chairs come out, and the lights go down. And we become a bar."

Wolhandler calls it the copper bar, but the lunch-hour turnaround makes it sound more like Mt. Vernon's new speakeasy. 

Wolhandler says the change to a dual-purpose property came about because the bar they had for ten years - a tiny one at the back - was getting too crowded. 

"At ten years, we wanted to reinvent all those things about Sascha's," she says. 

She started preparing for the change in August, by changing the plumbing, reconnecting the cappuccino machine, and altering the set-up so that the salad bar can undergo "a schizophrenic change."

She wouldn't discuss exact figures, but she says they didn't spend a fortune.

At the new bar, they can sit 16 people, and still offer the same dinner menu they were already offering.  The kitchen will stay open until 10 p.m. weekdays, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The bar offers a dozen bottled beers starting at $3.50 each, ten red wines by the glass and eight white wines by the glass.  At their happy hour - lasting two hours, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. - all taste plates are discounted at 50 percent, glasses of wine are $2-off, and all bottled beer is $4. 

Photo: Baltimore Sun/Amy Davis

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:54 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 28, 2010

Congress Hotel sold for $2.35 million

The Congress, the centenarian west side hotel that housed the legendary Marble Bar, was sold at auction this afternoon for $2.35 million.

The buyer is the property's note holder, Congress Financial LLC, described by an attorney as a group of investors with roots in the area.

Congress Financial bought the note in February after a Baltimore developer that had bought the hotel in 2001 for $2.8 million defaulted on a loan. 


In its heyday, the hotel's Marble Bar hosted new wave bands like Thee Katatonix and R.E.M. 


Posted by Erik Maza at 5:18 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

Get Out: Happy Hour at Diablita in Little Italy

A Mexican happy hour sounds dangerous. Images of blurry nights at Mr. Frog's and early morning taco binges come to mind.

But you're not likely to find that at Diablita, a Mexican tavern in Little Italy, even though the name translates literally to little devil girl.

It even calls itself "la cantina mas fina," or the fanciest watering hole.

Fancy or not, their happy hour lasts three hours, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Drafts go for $3, and Margaritas are just five bucks. Sangria during happy hour sells for $5. On Wednesdays, the bar offers $10 sangria pitchers.

Come to think of it - that does sound pretty dangerous. 

Diablita is at 1300 Bank St.


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:41 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Get Out

Congress Hotel, home to legendary Marble Bar, auctioned today

At 2:30 p.m Tuesday, in a drab room of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, a piece of city history will be auctioned off.

The property is the Congress Hotel, a mostly forgotten 36-unit apartment building on the 300 block of West Franklin street in Mt. Vernon that, for a brief period in the late 70s and early 80s, housed Baltimore's CBGB.

Just eight granite steps below Franklin is the Marble Bar, the kind of watering hole that looms large enough in the local punk consciousness that  even if you weren't there in its heyday, you might claim you were.

 Though the hotel first opened 107 years ago -- over the years, it hosted Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in its basement bar, once known as the Rathskeller -- it only started hosting provocative music acts in 1978, when the Marble Bar opened.

R.E.M, X and the Slickee Boys, the Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads, all played there. 

In its heyday, the hotel was like something out of a John Barrymore movie: all rococo refinement and Second Empire pizzazz. The bar was named after its 72-foot-long Italian marble bar. 

But in 1978, a Sun reporter who spent the night there described something out of a Graham Greene novel." "Laying down on the bed, you could almost feel the entire hotel sagging," the reporter wrote. "The wall looked the way you feel during a bad storm on the English channel." The bed, the reporter continued, felt "like a collapsed accordion and looked like like a bombed-out rowboat." 

In 1995, the Congress doubled as the decrepit Globe Hotel, where Madeline Stowe and Bruce Willis hide during a critical scene in the Terry Gilliam cult classic, "12 Monkeys."

"This is a really salubrious kind of place," Gilliam told the Sun then. 

In other words: perfect environs for broke musicians.  In a 2000 profile in City Paper, someone insisted they saw a pubescent U2 hanging out at the Marble. 

"Iggy Pop played here a couple times," said Leslee Anderson, who ran the bar in the 70s, to the weekly. "He loved it. I remember I was mopping the floor and Iggy was standing against the bar saying, 'This is a great rock 'n' roll bar--this is going to be a rocking night.'"

More recently, the hotel was known for providing $15-a-night accommodations for transients. In 2001, a developer spent $7.2 million to renovate the property into an apartment complex, redubbed the Congress Apartments.  

Today, all that will go to the highest bidder. The deposit on the property is a jazzy $200,000, according to auctioneers Alex Cooper Inc.

Update: Local blog Accelerated Decrepitude has a priceless collection of old Marble Bar fliers, including this one of Katatonix.

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:18 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Bar stories

September 27, 2010

Reader's Choice: Looney's, Della Roses's among best Baltimore Ravens bars

PX00107_9.JPGBefore the home opener against the Browns this weekend, Midnight Sun picked the best bars to watch the Ravens. Of course, this is a topic where everyone has their own opinions.

So, last week, readers joined the debate with their choices for the best Ravens bars.

While the original list included Mother's, Pickles Pub, Greene Turtle in Columbia, Padonia Station, and Baltimore Gameday Warehouse, there was no clear stand-out among readers.

Clearly, there's no lack of sports bars in the area. Readers came up with 20 different names. And they're not just in the city. The bars also come from White Marsh and Columbia. 

The names that got multiple mentions are Della Rose's Avenue Tavern in White Marsh, and Looney's, which has several locations in the area.

Though Della Rose's is now in White Marsh, it's been around since 1944. It was one of the first bars to serve pizza in the area.  

City Limits, Muggsy's, Turp's, and the Stalking Horse, were among some of the other names that were name-checked.

All of the reader's choices are in the comments of the original blog post.

Photo: Della Rose's in White Marsh. Baltimore Sun/Algerina Perna

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:12 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Get Out: Electric Six at Sonar

l_4bbc7bb540e17df5c05609fe28abde89.jpgIs Electric Six a novelty band or a serious rock act? Probably somewhere in between.

The six-piece band is like that character actor who shows up in all of Sam Raimi's movies, Bruce Campbell. They're half-serious, half-joking, and entirely self-mocking.

Even lead singer Dick Valentine's name sounds like a put-on. Just see the video for "Danger! High Voltage," where Valentine wears a giant codpiece. And that's only an old preview to what they are like live.

They're one of those bands whose sound is enhanced in person, if only because their performances engage all senses.   David Johansen was already mocking rock stereotypes as Buster Pointdexter years before Electric Six, but the Detroit-based band took the kitsch-factor to a whole new level.

Call it muscular camp.They're now touring with their new album, "Zodiac."

Tonight, they play Sonar. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12-14.

Find Local: Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St.

Photo: Electric Six Myspace

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:40 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Get Out

FreeFest review: Sleigh Bells had more air guitarists per capita than everyone else

I had a theory going into the Sleigh Bells show Saturday at the dance tent. I’d just never heard them at their intended volume: a couple of notches louder than a battleship cannon.

When I saw 10 feet tall speakers, and eight comically large Marshall amps stacked high -- which prompted one concertgoer to ask a friend, “Do you think those are real?” -- I knew this would be the right place to test out my hypothesis.

Some have categorized the duo of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss as “noise pop,” which is my second favorite sub-sub-sub-genre represented at V-fest (behind only Neon Indian’s classification as “chill wave”…How rad is that?). On paper, they read like a train-wreck.

Lo-fi distortion that, more often than not, drowns out the vocals. Lyrics that, when they can be deciphered, are repetitive, often childish, and sometimes irrelevant. Lots of “oooohhing” and “aaaahhing.” Single guitar licks repeated to buoy entire songs, which rarely last longer than 3 minutes.

And yet eight wrongs apparently do make a right.

The hip-hop-style thunder-beats cooked up by Miller in the studio are just out and out burners. The raucous guitar, turned up to 11 in concert, is ear-splitting.

But then in perfect contrast to Miller’s violent racket comes Krauss’s angelic crooning, moaning and giggling. Sexy? Maybe, if she hadn’t been singing about high school boyfriends and braces.

The group’s set lasted a trim 32 minutes, exactly the length of their one-and-only studio release, this past May’s "Treats." After opening with “Tell ‘Em,” the duo put the album on shuffle the rest of the way with the addition of B-side “Holly,” which fit right in.

Interestingly enough, some of the album’s catchiest tracks “Kids” and “Rill Rill” (featuring a sample from Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That”) were overshadowed in concert, but with what was clearly the highest per capita amount of audience air guitarists, it didn’t seem to matter.

Fan interaction was limited, which is expected considering the band was racing through 10 songs in only a half hour. “If you know the words, there’s not a lot of them, you should sing along,” Krauss told the crowd during "A/B machines." The lyrics to the entire song consist of: “Got my A machines on the table, got my B machines in the drawer.”

In closing out with the riotous “Crown On the Ground,” Krauss, Burger King crown on her head, crowd-surfed while soliciting vocal help from audience members and losing her mic in the process.

After apologizing for losing the mic, Krauss softly walked off the stage with Miller. The only quiet thing the two did all night.

Set list:
Tell ‘Em
Infinity Guitars
A/B Machines
Riot Rhythm
Run the Heart
Rill Rill
Straight As
Crown On the Ground

- Patrick Gavin

Patrick Gavin is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He's a high school teacher in Baltimore. He once turned town an interview with the lead singer of Train, as any person with taste would have done. 

Photo: Sleigh Bells Myspace


Posted by Erik Maza at 9:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Festival review: Virgin Mobile FreeFest

At Virgin Mobile FreeFest, the dust doesn't even have time to settle before it's time to move on.

Just as Texan band Neon Indian finished their set in the dance tent, Joan Jett was getting on stage at the main pavilion. At night, rapper M.I.A. went head-to-head with dance gods LCD Soundsystem.

With 21 artists playing at this one-day event, there was more shuttling here than in Middle East diplomacy.

At least 30,000 music fans came to Columbia Saturday to watch them play at three different stages built around the 40-acre grounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Some came for Ludacris, others for indie behemoths Pavement. Most came because it was free.

Performers Saturday covered the spectrum of current music: indie, electronic, trombone-playing (Trombone Shorty). The day was kicked off by electronic duo Brite Lite Brite at noon and ended at 11 p.m., with LCD Soundsystem on the main stage and Sharam in the dance tent.

For the rest of Midnight Sun's print story, click here.

Photo: Josh Sisk, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

September 25, 2010

Review: Neon Indian at Virgin Mobile FreeFest

By the end of Neon Indian's hour-long set, the dance forest felt more like a dust bowl. 

Following quieter acts like Will Eastman and Wolfgang Gartner, the combined oomph of Alan Polomo (the Neon Indian himself), guitarist and singer Ronald Gierhart, drummer Jason Faries, and keyboard player and killer vocalist Leanne Macomber overwhelmed, in a good way.

The fans right near the stage felt it too. It was easily the heaviest crowd in that tent since the day started.

Electronica enthusiasts unfamiliar with Neon Indian and expecting a lonely DJ standing behind a turn-table at the club-music heavy dance tent might have been disappointed by the foursome, but they didn't show it.  

They were both packed in front of the stage and sprawled further away under the shade of the trees in the Merriweather forest.

Earlier, when Eastman played, the crowd was wholly in front of the stage, worshipping the DJ up close and highlighting the fact that artists like Eastman usually perform in spaces more enclosed than the dance forest.

Neon Indian’s synthesized and guitar-driven sound brings to mind classic rock band Pink Floyd. All at once they churn out the driving drum beats of “Money”, the rich, orchestral notes of “All of My Love”, the atmospherics of “Echoes”, and a sound that is that is all their own.

The group expertly pairs club staples - frenzied electronics, synthesizers - and an overall speed that makes Interstate 95 look like a parking lot with rock requirements like guitar riffs, fog machines, and of-course the long-haired drummer.

-Peter Krause

Peter Krause is a features intern at the Baltimore Sun this year. He is a junior at Goucher College, where he majors in English with a minor in Anthropology. A native of Baltimore, he loves to pop in some headphones, jump on his bicycle and jam to Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, and various techno artists.

Photo: Special to the Baltimore Sun, Josh Sisk

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:51 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Review: Yeasayer at Virgin Mobile FreeFest

The music matched the weather which matched the mood in the late afternoon on Saturday, as (mostly) Baltimore natives Yeasayer played an upbeat, vibrant set, while a warm breeze and ample shade cooled the cheerful, beer-sipping crowd.

The group had the audience on their feet and dancing from start to finish of their hour-long set, launching with “Wait For the Summer,” a particularly apt showcase for Anand Wilder’s soaring, clear-throated singing style.

By the band’s second song, the distinct smell of pot had wafted over to my perch, prompting the affable 26 year-old ex-Marine standing next to me to jokingly demand his fair share.

At times Yeasayer’s sound could be a little muddled, as on “Grizelda,” which with its wailing vocals and unfocused melody sounded like the aural equivalent of a Vaseline-smeared camera.

But they did well to promptly switch into the catchy, funky “O.N.E.,” where direct lyrics (“Control me like you used to/No, you don’t move me anymore/And I’m glad that you don’t, ‘cause I can’t have you anymore”), seemed to hint at some past experience of on-again, off-again dysfunction.

The band finished up with “Ambling Alp,” a sunny finish to which almost everyone around me sang along. Before they head to their next gig in Millvale, Pennsylvania, the group will apparently first be taking care of some important business—catching the Ravens play the Cleveland Browns tomorrow.  

- Yeganeh June Torbati

 Yeganeh June Torbati is a new Baltimore Sun breaking news reporter, and lover of all things Wu-Tang. She tweets at @jtorbati

Photo: Special to the Baltimore Sun, Josh Sisk

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Review: Will Eastman at Virgin Mobile FreeFest

bs-ae-virgin-main-photos-01-2000.jpgDJ Will Eastman is enjoying recess.
At least that’s what it feels like watching Eastman, a trained historian and museum specialist who worked in the National Smithsonian of American History in Washington D.C., spin out sounds between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the dance forest at Virgin Mobile Freefest. Wearing a black tee-shirt and sunglasses, he bounces up and down, grinning a goofy I-love-what-I-am-doing grin.

General impression: the co-owner of U Street Music Hall has served on the management end of the club music scene for years and is now exactly where he wants to be.

Eastman released his debut single “Feelin” in Dec. 2009. His frantic, energetic sound exists at the intersection of house and mainstream techno. The base beats gallop at a breathless pace, interspersed with automated voice effects and sounds that bring to mind epic Star Wars laser battles.

I was a little worried if Eastman was going to be alone in this sentiment when I arrived in the dance forest at 12:45 p.m. There were only a dozen people there. Literally - I counted them.

Tucked away in...well... the forest, the location of the dance forest this year is a little on the obscure side. There is no huge indicator over the entrance, just a small “Emergency Exit” sign on the open gate.

But by 1:15 p.m., 15 minutes after Eastman took the stage, the crowd had arrived. Hipsters in tight purple pants. Prep school guys in madras and boat shoes. A woman wearing a glittery, gold cat costume. That guy with the beard you can always count on to be up front in combat boots and a loose plaid shirt dancing with his eyes closed. Diverse and colorful, the crowd was emblematic of the fans that make up the Baltimore/Washington D.C. music scene. 

-Peter Krause

Peter Krause is a features intern at the Baltimore Sun this year. He is a junior at Goucher College, where he majors in English with a minor in Anthropology. A native of Baltimore, he loves to pop in some headphones, jump on his bicycle and jam to Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, and various techno artists.

Photo: Will Eastman Myspace

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Review: Brite Lite Brite at Virgin Mobile FreeFest

It can’t be easy being the opening band at the Virgin Mobile Freefest, even if you’ve gone through a rigorous selection process for the dubious honor.

This year’s opener, Brite Lite Brite, played in the main pavilion, which a festival staff member told me seats around 5,000 people. Even with a healthy cluster of people crowding the foot of the stage and small groups scattered in the seats, the venue was far too open and overwhelming for the electronica-pop band, whose sound, I suspect, would make far more sense in a small, sweaty dance club.

As it was, the Boston duo’s sound felt a bit diffused and unenergetic. Even the lead singer Andrea Stankevitch, a Kirsten Dunst look-a-like, looked bored throughout most of the set, while her partner Lukas Johnson went from mixing happy pop beats at first to darker, bass-driven dubstep in the second half of the show.


Almost everything about the band and their set smacked of the juvenile, from their name, to the mostly barely pubescent fans far too awkward to properly dance to the music, to the schoolgirlish desperation with which Stankevitch rasped the group’s most well-known song, “I Just Want U2 Myself.” Add in some unsophisticated lyrics on their other songs (“I like the boys and the boys like me – hey!”), and an ill-fitting cover of “Tainted Love,” and you get the picture.

Before I saw them play at the festival, I read that the duo had been called a “female-fronted Daft Punk.” That comparison had me excited, because I like Daft Punk and I like women singers even more, but I found it a mainly undeserved compliment. I feel more energized listening to Daft Punk on my tinny computer speakers than I did watching the entire live Brite Lite Brite set, which never really rose above the level of mildly inoffensive but utterly forgettable electronica, better suited for cleaning my house than getting pumped up.

- Yeganeh June Torbati

 Yeganeh June Torbati is a new Baltimore Sun breaking news reporter, and lover of all things Wu-Tang. She tweets at @jtorbati

Photo: Brite Lite Brite Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

M.I.A. on performing at Virgin Mobile FreeFest: "I don't want every human turned into a Google ad"

M.I.A. is headlining the West Stage at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest today. 

She's promoting her new album, "Maya," an even more confrontational work than her past two albums that she describes as being about the "dilemma" of distributing and consuming music today.

"I don't want every single human turned into a Google ad opportunity. But that's the problem, isn't it?" she says in this week's Live! "It's a difficult thing to do without the framework of a corporation."

Of course, that's precisely what Virgin FreeFest is: a free concert for fans, and a giant marketing opportunity for the cell phone company. 

Executives there say the festival will generate for them an average 100 million impressions, which refers to the number of people who encounter the brand through advertising.

It's not an irony lost her, especially now, after her anti-corporate credibility has started to unravel with her marriage to Seagram liquor fortune scion Ben Bronfman, and a transparent hit-piece in the New York Times magazine. Her panned performance at the Hard festival hasn't helped matters. 

But M.I.A.'s conflicting politics have always been part of her playbook. Her appearance here could be described as a double-cross or a dare. Or as she says in the bonus track "Believer," by local DJ, Blaqstarr: "I could be a genius. I could be a cheat/It's a thin line and I'm [playing] with it."

M.I.A. plays an hour-long set at the West Stage at 9 p.m. She is rumored to appear later Saturday night at Ottobar, where DJ Asma, who's touring with the rapper, is spinning. Her management has not confirmed.

Photo: Handout, Caroline de Greef

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

FreeFest: Merriweather Post Pavilion Map

virginmap.JPGAfter three years at Pimlico Race Course, the Virgin Mobile FreeFest switched venues to Columbia's Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009.

It's there again this year. MPP is a big amphitheater that can hold nearly 20,000 people. And for the festival, two additional stages have been built - a West and a dance stage.

Below, find a high-resolution map of Merriweather. 

Brite Lite Brite will open the festival on the main stage at noon, followed by Temper Trap at West 30 minutes later, and DJ Will Eastman at 1 p.m. on the dance stage.

FreeFest Map:


Posted by Erik Maza at 9:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

September 24, 2010

BCCC student wins Virgin Mobile FreeFest ticket giveaway

Lots of readers retweeted, replied and commented to get Midnight Sun's free tickets to Virgin Mobile FreeFest Saturday.

But in the end, the winner is Keichel Lewter aka @quechele, a Baltimore native who wants to see rapper M.I.A.

Lewter's are schizophrenic tweets: she threatened to pelt Midnight Sun with ripe tomatoes if she didn't win the tickets, and then five minutes later said yours truly was good to look at. But that's part of her online charm. 

The 23-year-year old was born here, and now lives in Owings Mills. She works at the University of Maryland's medical school, and also attends Baltimore City Community College, where she's preparing to study engineering.

She wants to eventually transfer to Morgan State University. 

Lewter had heard about the original FreeFest giveaway, but only when it was too late. 

She says she's looking forward to seeing M.I.A. 

She will be tweeting from the festival Saturday, along with Midnight Sun, features intern Peter Krause, reporter June Torbati, and a handful of other tweeting correspondents. Our official FreeFest feed is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:23 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

What are Baltimore's best Ravens bars?

PX00010_9.JPGWhen picking a sports bar to watch a Ravens game, there's really very little difference between one bar over another. They all have the same beer and the same cable access; fans aren't too discriminating as long as there's booze around.

But certain watering holes are perpetually mobbed with people on game days. In today's Live! there's a list of the five best bars in the city and the county to watch Sunday's home opener. They are Mother's, Pickles Pub, Baltimore Gameday Warehouse, Padonia Station and Greene Turtle.

So why do people keep coming back to them if they just want a place to drink and scream? What the story finds is that the best sports bars are much more than just tacky memorabilia, flat-screen TVs and a couple of domestics. The play both haven and lucky charm.

It doesn't matter if your team wins or loses — fans keep coming back to them for the comforting embrace of a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts and for the irrational feeling that their mere presence might spare the team a loss.

In addition to Live!'s top five bars, Midnight Sun wants to know readers' five best sports bars, and on Monday, I'll compile them for a post.  Write your comments below.

Photo: Baltimore Sun/Barbara Haddock Taylor
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:54 PM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Rams Head Live, music connoisseurs, misspell headliner Dan Deacon's name in show flier

dan%20deacon.jpgElectronic musician Dan Deacon is headlining a show at Rams Head Live Sept. 29

Rams Head is a strange venue for Deacon. They're not exactly known for their eclectic taste; already has-been Jason Derulo will be playing there just two days later. 

But it's a gateway to a wider audience for the schlubby heartthrob outside the patchouli-scented crowds at Wham City. 

In any case, The Get Em Mamis are opening for him, and that is too tantalizing a twofer to pass up.

Clearly, this is something his hosts are excited about. So excited, in fact, they misspelled his name on the upcoming show's flier.

Yes, on Sept. 29, a Dan Decon will play Rams Head.

Credit where credit is due though; it could have been a lot worse. Rams Head could have advertised a Dan Deakonz or a Dave Dinkins as their 9/29 headliner.

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:48 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Local music

September 23, 2010

High Zero Festival opens tonight

The musical arm of the High Zero festival officially opens tonight.

High Zero, Baltimore's experimental music festival, has been a presence in the city since 1999.

Although it coincides with Virgin Mobile FreeFest, High Zero is much more than just music.

At the festival, there will be noise installations, workshops, guerilla street performances, and something called “Ghost Dancers,” where a pedal steel guitarist and a movement artist will “explore the porous border and the fathomless universe in each of us that lies beyond.” Top that Ludacris.

The opening party for the noise installations was Sept 21, but tonight is the first of the major concerts. After the jump, the schedule for the rest of the festival:

Thursday, Sept. 23:

Solo: Shelly Blake-Plock (stringed instruments)

Group One: Ami Dang (sitar, voice, electronics); Owen Gardner (strings); Liz Meredith (viola); Tuna Pase (voice, flute, laptop)

Group Two: Karen Borca (bassoon); Tiffany Defoe (saxophone); Shayna Dunkelman (percussion); Ju Suk Reet Meate (trumpet); Marc Miller (guitar)

Group Three: Michael Muniak (feedback); M.C. Schmidt (electronics); Dragos Tara (Max/MSP, acoustic bass); Keith Fullerton Whitman (electronics)

Group Four: Tiffany Defoe (saxophone); Andrea Neumann (inner piano); Juanjosè Rivas (circuit bending); Wobbly (electronics)

Friday, Sept 24:

Solo: Andrea Neumann (inner piano)

Group One: Tiffany Defoe (saxophone); Hans Koch (bass clarinet); Stewart Mostofsky (electronics)

Group Two: Karen Borca (bassoon); Ami Dang (sitar, voice, electronics); Ayako Kataoka Tomoko Sauvage (porcelain bowls, water)

Group Three: Owen Gardner (strings); Liz Meredith (viola); Andrea Neumann (inner piano) Dr. Johannes Rosenberg (violin, technology)

Group Four: Drew Daniel (electronics); Dan Deacon (electronics, tuba); Tuna Pase (voice, flute; laptop); Juanjosè Rivas (circuit bending)

Saturday, Sept 25:

Two special sets conceived and curated by Ayako Kataoka and Dan Deacon. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Ayako Kataoka's ensemble: Peter B, Drew Daniel, Shayna Dunkelman, Ju Suk Reet Meate, Wobbly

Dan Deacon's ensemble: Stewart Mostofsky, Shelly Blake-Plock, Karen Borca: bassoon Ami Dang, Dan Deacon, Shayna Dunkelman, Tiffany Defoe, Owen Gardner, Hans Koch, Tuna Pase

Saturday, Sept 25

Solo: Gary Smith (guitar)

Group One: Karen Borca (bassoon); Hans Koch (bass clarinet); Liz Meredith (viola); Michael Muniak (feedback); Tuna Pase (voice, flute, laptop)

Group Two: Shelly Blake-Plock (stringed instruments); Dr. Johannes Rosenberg (violin, technology); Wobbly (electronics)

Group Three: Ju Suk Reet Meate (trumpet); Marc Miller (guitar); Stewart Mostofsky (electronics); Tomoko Sauvage (porcelain bowls, water)

Group Four: Shayna Dunkelman (percussion); Juanjosè Rivas (circuit bending); Gary Smith (guitar)

Sunday, Sept 26:

Solo: Keith Fullerton Whitman (electronics)

Group One: Owen Gardner (strings); Marc Miller (guitar); Gary Smith (guitar)

Group Two: Shelly Blake-Plock (stringed instruments); Dan Deacon (electronics, tuba); Ju Suk Reet Meate (trumpet); Ayako Kataoka (electronics); Hans Koch (bass clarinet)

Group Three: Tomoko Sauvage (porcelain bowls, water); M.C. Schmidt: electronics

Group Four: Drew Daniel (electronics); Shayna Dunkelman (percussion); Keith Fullerton Whitman (electronics); Wobbly (electronics).

Concerts will be held at The Theater Project, 45 W Preston St. For more information on High Zero, visit their web site

Photo: High Zero Foundation

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

Get Out: Alejandro Escovedo at Rams Head on Stage

The alt-country singer Alejandro Escovedo performs at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis tonight.

Escovedo, the son of Mexican immigrants, specializes in guitar-driven love songs that bear the stamp of his Texas upbringing.

 He's touring with his new album, "Street Songs of Love," and will be performing with his band, The Sensitive Boys.

Tickets start at $39.50. 

Event listing: Rams Head On Stage is at 33 West Street, Annapolis. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Photo: Alejandro Escovedo Myspace

33 West Street
33 West Street
33 West Street

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:52 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Get Out

Virgin FreeFest: Rye Rye might perform with M.I.A.

 Baltimore rapper Rye Rye might perform with M.I.A. at Virgin Mobile FreeFest Saturday, the British hip hop star told Midnight Sun in an interview.

Rye Rye, who's been signed to M.I.A.'s vanity shingle at Interscope, N.E.E.T., will tour with the Brit this Fall.

M.I.A., who's incorporated Baltimore house and dance music in her work, says performing here is comfortable because the local rapper has made their kind of music accessible.

"It helps that Rye Rye's already done exciting work in Baltimore," she said. "We're kind of alike."

Asked if the Baltimore native would come watch her at the festival, M.I.A. said, "She'll be there. She might get up on stage with me."

But like all things involving M.I.A., nothing's set in stone. The two just finished a video together. 

M.I.A. goes on at 9 p.m. at the West Stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion. 

Rye Rye will tour with her this Fall. Their tour dates, below:

9/21 Montreal, QC - Metropolis
9/22 Toronto, ON - The Sound Academy
9/26 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
9/27 New York, NY - Terminal 5
9/29 Chicago, IL - The Vic
9/30 Chicago, IL - The Vic
10/03 Ithaca, NY - Cornell University
10/04 Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub
10/05 Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub
10/09 Austin, TX - Zilker Park, Austin City Limits Festival
10/12 Oakland CA - Fox Theater
10/13 San Francisco, CA - The Independent

Photo: Rye Rye Myspace

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:56 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

September 22, 2010

Virgin Mobile FreeFest Schedule; T.I. not committed yet

freefestschedule.JPGVirgin Mobile FreeFest has released its full line-up for Saturday, September 25.

The Atlanta rapper T.I. still hasn't committed, organizers say. He has been preparing for a parole hearing in Atlanta after a September drug bust. There's been wide speculation about his ability to honor touring commitments - he's already canceled three shows, one that would have come a day after the festival.

As Midnight Sun reported Monday, festival organizers have not replaced his act, but they have expanded time sets for other artists.

But if he is able to perform Saturday, the schedule will be altered, spokeswoman Audrey Fix Schaefer said.

In total there will be 21 artists who'll perform throughout the day.

The festival opens at noon with Brite Lite Brite on the main stage, and Temper Trap a half hour later on the West Stage. At 4:30 p.m. on the main stage Joan Jett will kick off a whopper of a line-up: she's followed by Matt & Kim, Pavement, and LCD Soundsystem.

Full schedule below, including printable version:

Virgin Mobile FreeFest line-up:


Printable schedule and PDF: here.

Pavilion Stage

noon-12:45 p.m. - Brite Lite Brite
1:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. - Jimmy Eat World
3 p.m.-4 p.m. - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
4 p.m.-4:30 p.m. - High tea toast with Jeremiah Weed
4:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m. - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
6:15 p.m.-7:15 p.m. - Matt & Kim
7:40 p.m.-8:55 p.m. - Pavement
9:30 p.m.-11 p.m. - LCD Soundsystem

West Stage

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. - The Temper Trap
2 p.m.-3 p.m. - Trombone Shorty
3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m. - Yeasayer
5:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m. - Thievery Corporation
7:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m. - Ludacris
8:15 p.m.-9 p.m. - Bindlestiff Family Circus & fire show by Therm
9 p.m.-10 p.m. - M.I.A.
10 p.m.-11 p.m. - Fire show by Therm

Dance Forest:

1 p.m.-2 p.m. - Will Eastman
2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. - Wolfgang Gartner
3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m. - Neon Indian
5 p.m.-6 p.m. - Maximum Balloon
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. - Chromeo
8 p.m.-8:30 p.m. - Sleigh Bells
8:45 p.m.-9:45 p.m. - Modeselektor
10 p.m.-11 p.m. - Sharam

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:06 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Get Out: David Rakoff at Central Enoch Pratt Free Library

Humorist David Rakoff writes about nightlife only occasionally, and music hardly ever.

But the big music events this week are slated for the weekend - High Zero, and Virgin FreeFest - and tonight's City Paper Best Of party is invite only. So, he is today's Get Out.

And why shouldn't he?  Rakoff is the thinking man's David Sedaris. He doesn't pull the stadium-sized crowds Sedaris pulls, and he doesn't write about living in the French countryside. Instead, he reports and writes these understated pieces on city life and new age retreats with Steven Seagal

His latest book, "Half Empty," comes out this year, and in an interview with Terry Gross, he talked about being diagnosed with cancer while writing it.

His last books, including the awesome "Don't Get Too Comfortable," is at Google Books almost in its entirety.

Find Local: Central Branch is at 400 Cathedral St.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:54 AM | | Comments (0)

Last Night's Photo: Stormy Weather

A foggy evening in Inner Harbor, from flickr user photoskip. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:44 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

B&O Brasserie's Brendan Dorr wins bartender competition

PX00052_9.JPGB&O Brasserie bartender Brendan Dorr is America's Next Top Bartender! Or something.

Barenjager Honey Liqueur sponsored a competition in New York City to find the best drink recipes with their product. On Monday night, Dorr won first place against five other bartenders, $1,000 in cash, and all-expense trip to this year's Okotoberfest in Munich.

Dorr, who's won a bunch of mixing competitions, won with a cocktail ominously named "El Oso" (The Bear), which is made out of Barenjager, Tequila, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, and Jerry Thomas' Decanter Bitters.

Alcohol companies routinely host bartender competitions to promote their products. This was the second one for Barenjager, which is made in Germany, but is owned by a New York company.

Last year it was open only to New York City talent, but for Monday's competition it was extended to other states, except, the competition's press release says, "Texas, Washington, California, Tennessee, Alaska, and Hawaii."

What gives Barenjager? Anyway, Dorr's competitors were from Philly, Denver, New York, Brooklyn and Chicago. 

All bartenders submitted recipes before August 23 to move on to the final round on Monday night.

Dorr's cocktail will appear on B&O's Fall drinks menu.  

Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:54 AM | | Comments (35)

September 21, 2010

Get Out: Glee night at The Hippo

  Every Tuesday night, The Hippo plays Broadway videos and show tunes at their Mt. Vernon location for Showtune Video Madness.

But tonight in honor of the "Glee" season 2 premiere, they'll broadcast live this show about Sue Sylvester, and those other people.

If you have doubts about your outfit, be sure to check in with WWEPW: What would Emma Pillsbury Wear. Don't ask me how I know that exists.

Find Local: The Hippo is at 1 W. Eager St.

"Glee" premiers at 8 p.m.

Photo: Fox

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:24 AM | | Comments (5)

We're giving away two tickets to sold-out Virgin Mobile FreeFest

Midnight Sun and Co. are feeling benevolent. We've gotten two tickets to Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and we want to give them away.

How? Tweet your favorite things about Midnight Sun blog, using the hashtag #midnightfreefest, or write them in the comments below. You can also write a good reason why you should be considered for the tix.

Make us laugh, make us cry, be creative, or absurd. We'll pick the best answer submitted by noon Friday. 

You can enter as many times as you like, but you MUST be following @MidnightSunBlog to win. If you leave your answer in the comments, include your twitter handle.

In exchange for the two tickets, we'll make you a Midnight Sun tweeting correspondent for the day, and your tweets from the festival will be streamed on our Virgin FreeFest page

Other than the #midnightfreefest contest, there are no more available free tickets for the festival. The last chance to get free tickets for volunteering was Sept. 18. Only VIP pavilion tickets remain for sale, and they cost $125.

Disclosure: The tickets are not donations from festival organizers. They belong to our social media queen bee, Carla Correa, who snagged them back in July and won't be using them.

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:30 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

September 20, 2010

Virgin Mobile FreeFest: We have no Plan B yet if T.I. bails

T.I.'s drug bust put in question his touring plans for the Fall, including a Sept. 25 stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion for Virgin Mobile FreeFest. Already, three shows have been canceled as he sorts through his legal problems.

But festival organizers say he will not be replaced if he bails because there's no time to find a back-up.

The Atlanta rapper was arrested  Sept. 1 in Los Angeles for ecstasy possession, among other charges. He's due to appear soon before an Atlanta judge who'll decide if he violated his parole.

In light of his legal woes, he's canceled three shows already - Penn State, Jackson State University, and West Virginia University, which was scheduled a day after Virgin FreeFest.

Seth Hurwitz, chairman of promoter I.M.P., says he's waiting to hear "official word" from the label about the scheduled appearance. But as of now, T.I.'s still on the bill.

"I don't know that we can plan until Thursday," he said.

If the Atlanta judge revokes the rapper's parole, and he cancels the festival appearance, the show will go on anyway.

"There's certainly enough entertainment going on," Hurwitz said. He's considered replacement acts, but hasn't found the right one.

"We're not going to find another act just like that," he said.

One possibility would be to extend other bands' set times, spokeswoman Audrey Fix Schaefer  added. Set times haven't been locked in because organizers have yet to formalize a schedule of the day's events, five days before the festival.

Virgin Mobile FreeFest is Saturday 25 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Follow up-to-date coverage at our FreeFest page and Midnight Sun.

Photo: T.I. official Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:04 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

Get Out: Springfield Farm fundraiser Barn Aid with Wye Oak

barnaid.jpgThe owner of Springfield Farms in Sparks wants to build a new 6,000-square-foot barn to accommodate all the new business he has from local restaurants and customers .

But in a battle that's now lasted four years, David Smith's neighbors have challenged his zoning appeal. To help with the farm's legal fees, a group of local restaurateurs and musicians are throwing a benefit concert tonight at Golden West Cafe in Hampden. 

Local duo Wye Oak will perform, as will Birdland, Pilgrim, and DJ Jason Willett. 

The event was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was canceled and moved to the cafe. 

Admission is $10 to $15. All proceeds go to the farm. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W 36th St.

The situation at Springfield is not uncommon; it highlights the difficulty local farmers have in expanding business. For more information on that, read Arthur Hirsch's Sun story.

Photo: Barn Aid

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:44 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Get Out

After Zappalooza, fans share best Frank Zappa memories

zappa%20bust.jpgOn Sunday, September 19 was officially declared Frank Zappa day in Baltimore. City officials, fans, and family of the misanthropic rocker gathered at Southeast Anchor Branch Library for a day of celebration that included the unveiling of a bust, a Q&A with his widow, and a performance by cover band Zappa Plays Zappa.

In light of the events, we asked readers, some of whom have been fans since their teens, to write in their favorite memories:

"My first Zappa show was Halloween 1977 at the Palladium in New York City. Still one of the greatest concerts I've ever seen. "Baby Snakes" was being filmed. I was a fan before then but that blew me away I remained a big fan ever since.  I remember the day he died. I was in North Carolina driving around listening to a talk radio show. The host talked about how when he came in that morning the people in his office were all upset. So this guy who knew nothing about Frank Zappa beyond "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" opened his lines to Zappa fans. By the end of the show the host was dumbstruck about Zappa's career, orchestral work and other accomplishments. He kept repeating "Why didn't anybody know about all this?" wrote Brad Winters

 "First took a chance on a Mothers album when I was 15. Hated it. Revisited it about a year later and played "Absolutely Free" about 10 times in a row. Went out and bought both "Freak Out" and "Lumpy Gravy." Have been a fan ever since," wrote Bob Caldwell  

 "First saw Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show when I was 13. Went out and bought the "Mothermania" album, the perfect introduction. It made me a lifelong fan. Zappa was my real introduction to the world of music, people like Eric Dolphy, Edgard Varese and many others that were new to me," wrote James Garner

"I saw him twice in Germany. I actually got him to sign a record at the Frankfurt gig, and it was a record that Reprise released without his permission. He was totally cool about signing it, although he did give me a little grief (I was only 17). I kind of lost interest in his non-early-Mothers music in the 80s (still play the early records from time to time), although I always respected his freedom of expression," wrote commenter Volker

"My brother, me, and a couple other guys went down the Inner Harbor one Saturday night sometime in the early 80's before we were going out to Painters Mill to See Zappa in concert. While standing in line, Frank comes walking by me wearing a wild purple jacket, yellow pants and bright, ruby red, platform shoes. He was very cool about the whole thing and even made mention of us on stage the next night. It was a true highlight because my brother and I are huge Zappa fans," wrote Hank 

"I first saw him at the Felt Forum in NYC on Hallloween night 1974. Every member of the band was a virtuoso and the music was mind-bogglingly complex, blending jazz, shimmering progressive rock, classical...and satirical humor!!! I saw the same band a week later at the Capitol Theater and their set and vibe was very different. Each Zappa concert I went to was a unique event with different songs, musicians, and themes. 

"And he was a great guitarist, as influential as Santana and Hendrix and Clapton and others of that time. Dweezil has really taken it on to a new level. The Zappa Plays Zappa band really floored me at the celebration in Baltimore,"wrote Doug S. 

For more coverage of Sunday's event, read reporter Chris Kaltenbach's front-page story.

Ed. note: comments have been edited for length and grammar.


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:58 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

Canton's Gin Mill up for auction

ginmill-2.jpgAfter 13 years, the owners of Gin Mill are putting the Canton bar and a restaurant up for auction, owner Lester Reeder confirmed.

Reeder said business has been solid, but that it was time to call it quits.

“If you’ve ever run your own bar, 20 years is enough,” he said. “We’ll love to see someone else do something great with it."

The bar -- which the Reeders actually bought in 1996 according to property records -- will be auctioned off October 20 at noon at its Boston street location by Jonathan Melnick Auctioneers.

Its base value is a little over $600,000, according to property records. The successful bidder would also pay deposits totaling $80,000 for the business, the real estate, and the liquor license, according to the auction online listing.

The Gin Mill, located in a building originally built in 1850, is two stories and has two bars, two dining rooms, and a lounge area in the rear. In the time the Reeders have owned it, they've sold it once before, only to buy it back two and a half years ago.

Lester Reeder says it’s been listed for sale for all that time, but no one had stepped with the right offer. Why sell now? "A lot of people tell you, you sell when things are good," he said.

He explained the auction as a business decision, meant to fast-track that process of finding "the right buyer." "In this economy, you have to be a little more aggressive," he said.

But, he added, that if a buyer doesn't agree to the right terms, they won't sell. "If it doesn’t work out, we’ll be here the next day," he said. "We can be here for 22 years.”

(Photo: Colby Ware/Special to The Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:35 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: News

September 19, 2010

After Ravens vs. Bengals, slow down with Jimmy Webb

Of all the singer-songwriters who became famous during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jimmy Webb was perceived as perhaps the squarest. James Taylor and Kris Kristofferson were heroes to the anti-war left, but Webb was associated with conservative country singer Glen Campbell, who had memorably performed several of Webb's songs and made him a commercial success.

Despite three Grammys and several top-10 hits over a 40-year-career, that perception has stuck. Webb is a virtual unknown among young listeners today, while contemporaries like Taylor have been passed on to kids by their boomer parents.

When the 64-year-old kicks off two nights of sold-out shows here in Baltimore on Sunday, he'll do so at the intimate — read: small — Cabaret at Germano's Trattoria.

The cascading lyrics and nuanced politics in his new anthology album, "Across the River," might make him hopelessly retro in a mainstream market that lacks introspection and likes its musicians wearing meat dresses. But Webb is as perceptive today as he was then — if just as misunderstood.

To read the rest of this story, click here. The two nights of shows are sold out, but Germano's is keeping a standby list. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:16 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Get Out

September 17, 2010

Share your Frank Zappa memories


Sarah K.K. here, pinch-hitting with a Friday-night request. As you know if you've read Erik's coverage from this week, this weekend marks the unveiling of a statue celebrating legendary, Baltimore-born musician Frank Zappa.

Are you going to this weekend's events? Did you ever see him live? What was the first record of his you bought? What did you really think of "Valley Girl?" Tell us - How will you remember the eccentric musical genius?

Sun photo by Monica Lopossay

Posted by Sarah Kickler Kelber at 7:01 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Local music

Ibiza DC still doesn't know why Gucci Mane canceled

Ibiza DC, the club where Gucci Mane was scheduled to perform Sept 15, still doesn't know why the Atlanta rapper canceled at the last minute.

Gucci Mane was slated to perform as part of the promotional tour for his newest album, "The Appeal." But at 5:30 p.m, the rapper's label,  Warner Bros., abruptly called to cancel, Ibiza manager Misha Kapourchali says.

Two hours before doors opened? Memo to future bookers: That's known as #guccitime.

Within an hour of the call, Kapourchali says the venue sent out thousands of e-mails and text alerts with news of the cancellation. Tickets were not pre-sold, and the venue stayed closed that night.

He says they are working with the label to schedule return date. 

Ibiza was Mane's only stop in the metropolitan area on his tour. He is scheduled to play New York Sept 27, but a venue has not been announced, according to his MySpace. 


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:31 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: News

Police release picture of suspect in Sept 9 Power Plant Live! stabbing

9-9-10%20POWER%20PLANT.jpgBaltimore police have released a picture of the suspect in the September 9 non-fatal stabbing at Power Plant Live!

The man, who wears a green shirt in this security camera image, stabbed a 22-year-old several times during a fight before fleeing on foot. 

The altercation happened at the PPL plaza sometime after 11 p.m.  on the night of the Ravens kick-off party. 

The 22-year-old survived the stabbing, and was taken to Johns Hopkins University hospital.

Police are seeking to ID the suspect. 

High resolution image after the jump:

Anyone with information on the suspect is advised to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP. Callers can remain anonymous.


Photo: Baltimore Police

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:40 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: News

Rolling Stone ranks Sound Garden and True Vine among greatest 25 record stores

Baltimore gets two notches on Rolling Stone's list of the best 25 record stores in the country.

The magazine looked high and low for its online listicle, and named Fells Point's the Sound Garden - no stranger to awards - and True Vine in Hampden to No. 2 and No. 17, respectively.

Along with Chicago, Seattle, and New York, Baltimore is the only other city to have multiple stores on the round-up. Time to pull out that #localpride hashtag on twitter.

The Sound Garden is by now an institution in the city. At 10,000 square feet, it's musical nirvana. They buy and sell everything from vinyl to Blu-rays, and own a sprawling collection of old and new. Also, it has a pretty charming celebrity flickr gallery, where you can see Jonathan Richman besides Orlando Brown and Girls Gone Wild's Joe Francis.

True Vine doesn't just own rare vinyls, they own entire rare vinyl collections. The small Hampden store - recently relocated to a new place just around from the old shop - has an encyclopedic stock list. And they also carry loads from local artists.

The True Vine is at 3544 Hickory Ave.; Sound Garden is at 1616 Thames St.


Posted by Erik Maza at 9:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News

HFStival hosted Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers in its heyday; this weekend its Billy Idol and Third Eye Blind

HFStival is returning this week after a four-year absence. The granddaddy of East coast music festivals was the live music arm of seminal, shuttered radio station WHFS-FM, and through most of the '90s and the first half of the '00s, it drew massive crowds.

In 2007, it was suspended, and the version that returns this year is something of a zombie HFStival, with prehistoric headliners like Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind, and Everclear.

In our photo gallery, witness the festival over the years.

In this oral history, attendees recall the festival's heyday:

Jon Bailey of Baltimore-based Jon Bailey Band: WHFS was a station that kind of defined our times in high school.
It was on all the time, from when I got home came from school to when I went to bed. The first time I
listened to Radiohead was on there. First time I heard Beck.

Mike Hall of the Baltimore rock group Sick Sick Birds: I loved the station. I was a teen in the late 80s and I loved what they played then. It was WHFS and the Towson radio station pretty exclusively.

Bryan Burkert
, owner of Fells Point record store Sound Garden: The festival was one of the first in the region.
Back when it used to be popular, it was one of the ways to be played on the station. They were always
right on the cusp.

Bailey: I went to the very first HSF. This was in the mid-90s. I was in high school. I went with a couple
of high school buddies. None of us had been to concerts before that. We had a lot of fun. I don’t even
remember who played.

Burkert: When I HFS was in its heyday they had all the alternative music that was breaking. Some of the
great alternative acts. Beastie Boys playing with the Foo Fighters. You could get a lot of really good bands
playing in one day. It was a party. Sound Garden did a lot with them. We would always sell for every HFStival
artist. We had campaigns around it. It was really an event back in the day.

After the station changed to a talk radio format in 2007, the festival was suspended. For attendees, it was already getting too mainstream.

Hall: I haven't gone since the mid-90s. What I remember was sitting on a blanket on a nice day with friends and seeing They Might be Giants. I don't even know where it is this year. It's probably not unlike every other giant, Lollapalooza-style festival. They all seem kind of the same to me.

Bailey: HFS summarized high school for us. It encompassed the over-all experience of growing up in the 90s.

Burkert: I saw the ad but haven't really looked into it. Without a radio station there’s not much driving it. Also we’ve all gotten a little older.

Photo: Michael Lutzky / Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:30 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: News

September 16, 2010

Last Night's Photo: the Charles Theater after dark

Today's Last Night's Photo is actually from many, many nights ago. July 17, to be exact. Sidewalk_flying took it outside the Charles during Artscape. Several readers have joined the Midnight Sun flickr pool, but few have added pictures, with the most recent one being an image of a giant crab cake. Let me encourage you to newer add pictures so that we don't all have to reminisce about a hazy night two months ago. If you went to Of Montreal's show Monday in DC, add your pictures to the pool. If you go to tonight's Boozin for Boobs, do likewise.   

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:26 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Get Out: Boozin for Boobs at Riptide by the Bay

Four local activists are participating in the Susan G. Komen's foundation three-day walk to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

With the 60-mile walk, they plan on raising $10,000 for breast cancer awareness. So far, they've raised 6,000, runner Nelly Khalil says.

So tonight Riptide by the Bay in Fells Point will donate 10 percent of all drink and food sale proceeds to the Komen foundation.

Khalil also says there will be a raffle of prizes totaling $1,000. So guys, if you need a good reason to get wasted tonight, do it for breast awareness.

Event starts at 6 p.m. and is 21+, natch.

Riptide by the Bay is at 1718 Thames Street. Proper invite is on Facebook.

Photo: Boozin for Boobs 


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:12 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Get Out

Alewife opens today in West side, testing neighborhood's business health again

A new beer hall will open today in the West side, the city's most punishing neighborhood for new bars.

Alewife, as the bar will be called, will be replace Lucy's Irish Pub -- nee Maggie Moore's -- which was one of a handful of nightlife businesses to shutter last year.

Alewife's success or failure could be a barometer of the area's ability to foster new business.

In July, owner Daniel Lanigan said he was opening the place because "that part of town is an opportunity for revitalization, and we want to be a part of that for a long time."

The West side was in fact primed for development; city officials promoted it as the next Station North. But so far it's nothing but a graveyard of forgotten nightclubs, with most shuttered businesses never making it past their toddler years.

A World of Wings cafe closed there last year. Bedrock opened in 2006 and closed in 2008. And Maggie Moore's opened in 2005, and closed three years later. Lucy's Irish Pub replaced it then, but was out of business by last year.

Lanigan might punt his way forward; he already owns three other beer bars in Massachusetts. But Alewife's soft opening is already a week later than he'd said in July

The bar will be located at the intersection of North Eutaw and West Fayette streets, across from the historic Hippodrome theater.  The building is said to date from the mid 1800s. Lanigan said he's only made cosmetic changes to the interior and facade from the way it was as Lucy's.

The opening is geared towards getting Alewife ready for Baltimore Beer Week and the Baltimore Beer Festival in October.  He's also added a New American cuisine, 40 taps, 100 wines bottled beers, and a wine list. 

Doors open at 4 p.m. Alewife is at 21 N Eutaw Street.

Photo: Beer in Baltimore

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:21 AM | | Comments (54)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 15, 2010

UPDATE: Get Out: Gucci Mane at DC's Ibiza Sept 15

Gucci Mane is performing at the Ibiza club in DC tonight in one of his first stops promoting his new album.

The Atlanta rapper - and compulsive tweeter - has been on a roll in 2010, popping out mixtapes the way Sarah Palin pops out Tea Party endorsements. 

His new album, "The Appeal," goes on sale September 28. It includes collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Swizz Beatz.

At what time does the show start? At #guccitime. Just kidding, doors open at 8 p.m. Ibiza says early arrival is strongly suggested. The show is 18+

The venue is at 1222 1st St NE, Washington DC.

Update, 9 p.m.: Gucci Mane abruptly canceled his show at Ibiza tonight, the venue just posted on its Web site. No explanation was given. The rapper will appear on 93.9 WKYS later tonight to explain the cancellation. Several other shows will be canceled.  The post doesn't say when the make-up date will be, or if tickets will be refunded.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:51 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Get Out

Last Night's Photo: Contribute to new Midnight Sun flickr pool

Picture%207.pngBecause Midnight Sun isn't in enough platforms - Twitter, and Facebook, and smartphones - I've created a flickr group pool.

Except unlike those platforms, this one gives you a chance to emerge from the merry gulag that is the comments board.

To get serious for a moment - there's a lot of great young and amateur photographers out there, and even more that don't carry equipment but record every single night out or concert they go to. Midnight Sun wants to hear from you.

Every week - or day! depending on the response - I'll post the best music, or nightlife image from the pool.

Everything is fair game: one of those classic Baltimore characters sipping from a Natty Boh at a corner bar, or that one amazing middle-aged lady who was destroying the dance-floor at The Paradox last weekend and that I sadly didn't photograph.

The point is - there's things we can't cover, but that should be showcased anyway, like Hampdenfest, which I would have written about if I'd had ten arms.

If comments are to tell other readers what you think, here's a shot at showing all of us what you're seeing. It's another way to make the blog even more interactive. And there's the bonus of extending linklove to your Flickr page.

Midnight Sun Flickr

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:29 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Baltimore's Rye Rye tours with M.I.A. this Fall

rye ryeBaltimore rapper Rye Rye will tour with M.I.A on the Sri Lankan-British rapper's Fall tour. She will appear in 11 stops altogether, including dates in Philadelphia and Boston, Interscope records announced today.

Rye Rye was one of the first artists signed to M.I.A.'s vanity record, N.E.E.T. Records, at Interscope and will release her first album, "Go! Pop! Bang!" next year.

It's not clear from the press release if Rye Rye will appear with M.I.A. at her headlining appearance at Virgin FreeFest. But a festival spokeswoman said there are currently no changes to the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore native has been defending Kanye West post-Video Music Awards on her Twitter

After the jump, Rye Rye's tour dates with M.I.A.:

Tour dates:

9/21 Montreal, QC - Metropolis
9/22 Toronto, ON - The Sound Academy
9/26 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
9/27 New York, NY - Terminal 5
9/29 Chicago, IL - The Vic
9/30 Chicago, IL - The Vic
10/03 Ithaca, NY - Cornell University
10/04 Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub
10/05 Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub
10/09 Austin, TX - Zilker Park, Austin City Limits Festival
10/12 Oakland CA - Fox Theater
10/13 San Francisco, CA - The Independent

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:10 AM | | Comments (1)

More free tickets for Virgin Mobile FreeFest; yes, there's still a chance to see Ludacris, T.I., M.I.A. gratis

Picture%208.pngThose free tickets for Virgin Mobile FreeFest given away in July disappeared faster than the Jets' offense.

But nutty billionaire Richard Branson is still feeling magnanimous. Turns out the folks at FreeFest held on to several hundred tix to give away to people who donate hygiene kits to benefit homeless youth in Baltimore and Washington DC.

On September 18, at least some 320 of them will be up for grabs at several area universities. That's when organizers will hold eight different drives to collect the kits. The first 40 residents who bring five ziploc bags with five hygiene products - tampons, deodorant, etc - will receive a general admission ticket to the festival.

Organizers will be collecting bags at Towson, Johns Hopkins, Morgan State, Maryland, William & Mary, American, and Georgetown universities from noon to 3 p.m. But the drive is open to anyone over 16 who is a resident of the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area.

September 18 is the only date that lists volunteer openings now, but there might be more before the festival September 25, according to organizers. 

But where to get the money to buy all those bags? One suggestion: grab the care packages your college roommate's mom has sent him. Or! just spend your lunch money kids. Think of each bag as a Ludacris, a Pavement, a T.I., or a Joan Jett.

For exact drive locations, go to A sample list of accepted hygienic products can be found here. The charities that will receive the kits are listed here; they include mostly charities from other states, but a couple like Sasha Bruce Youthwork and Covenant House have branches in Washington D.C.

Also see: Virgin FreeFest lineup pictures

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

September 14, 2010

Baltimore city cop arrested at Club Reality; venue and city police have prickly history

A Baltimore city cop was arrested early Sunday after a fight broke out at Club Reality, a Southwest Baltimore hip-hop club that previously accused city police of "harassment."

The Sun's Crime Beat reported Everett Walker, 29, a 6-year veteran of the force, was violently arguing with a 20-year-old female at the club's rear parking lot around 2 a.m. 

Police disrupted the fight and arrested Walker after he tried to strike another woman. He "appeared clearly intoxicated with a glazed stare and was unresponsive to our loud verbal commands," according to the charging documents.

Owners of Club Reality, which has been open since January of last year, say the club has a "friendly and cozy atmosphere" for the "best homemade food this side of town." But they've also had brush-ins with city police, who they accused of "harassment" on their MySpace page.

In April, club owners wrote the venue was charged with disorderly conduct, and took to their Web site to complain about what they called "bogus complaints" that  resulted in "police loitering on the premises and many unscheduled visits from the fire chief and liquor board."

"We do not understand the harassment and disrespectful behavior by several police officers to the staff and patrons," promotions manager Melissa Carter wrote then. "It is intimidating and embarrassing."

But police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there are no pending padlock hearings scheduled for Club Reality, and that he didn't see the point of the club's contention. Club owners couldn't be reached for comment - will update when they do - but the Baltimore City Liquor License Board also doesn't show any pending action against the venue.

Guglielmi said that they don't monitor Club Reality any more than they do other nightclubs. "The bottom line on any business is that we're not going to tolerate any violence," he said.

Meanwhile, Crime Beat also reported that Walker was already suspended from the force from a previous offense. It seems the 6-year vet has a thing for fighting in parking lots. In April 2009, he fought with two police officers who questioned him while he was off duty, and he refused a breath test.

His hearing for that arrest is scheduled for October. Sunday's will be heard later this month.

Photo: Club Reality

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:00 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: News

Get Out: Matt Hires at The 8X10 Sept 14

The city is still recovering from last night's Ravens win. In the midst of our collective hangover, it's best not to listen to any loud music.

A singer/songwriter will do. Someone with an ukelele maybe, or someone strumming his guitar barefoot and shyly tucking his hair behind his ears. Matt Hires is that barefoot balladeer.

He'll perform at The 8X10 tonight. And as someone in the Jack Johnson, John Mayer mold, he won't strain your ears, for better or worse.

In August, the Tampa, FL native released a new album, "A to B." He's currently in a multi-city tour that will end mid-January. 

Find Local: The 8X10 is at 10 E Cross St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Photo: flickr user apartmentlife 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Get Out

New Canton bar Parkside Sports Bar opens, attracts Ravens fans

IMG_0689.jpgParkside Sports Bar chose the Ravens-Jets game for their grand opening Monday night.

The new Canton bar takes over the spot on Fleet Street once occupied by Bleachers, which was sold in May. For an opening day, it was surprisingly full by kickoff, which could say something about its future, or just the city's obsession with the Ravens.

Eric Mathias, one of the owners, says they envision "a good, old-fashioned neighborhood bar." He's something of an expert on the subject. Mathias is also part owner of the storied The Horse You Came in On Saloon.

Before the owners settled on the name, Parkside went through several iterations. First, it was Goodfellas, which was discarded in favor of The Irish Horse, an awkward name since Mathias has little Irish in him.

His father is Israeli.

The bar hopes to attract the athletes and runners who practice at nearby Patterson Park, and also the pool league that used to reside at Bleachers. For now, they'll have ping pong tournaments and the Ravens.

The 1,500-or-so-square-foot space has eight TV screens and one mean-looking bouncer, a big-ol grizzly bear sweetly named Ian. PBR drafts are $1.75 every day, and pitchers go for $5.

As the Jets' offense nosedived, Mark Sanchez can at least be happy he gave a new Baltimore bar a good note to open with.

Parkside is at 2501 Fleet Street. They are currently without a Web site. 

Caption: Ian the Bouncer. Photo: Erik Maza

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:04 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 13, 2010

DC's The Dismemberment Plan Reunite for Short Tour

Broken-up DC punks The Dismemberment Plan are reuniting for a short tour in 2011 to promote a re-issue of their most well-known album, "Emergency & I."

The band formed in 1993 and split up a decade later. In that time they played Baltimore at least twice, in 1997 and 2004. In the 90s, they performed at WHFS' HFStival, a zombie version of which, by the way, is happening this weekend after a four-year hiatus. 

And in 2004 lead singer Travis Morrison performed solo at the closed The Talking Head Club. At the time, The Sun interviewed him for a story on the lack of star power at the Republican National Convention where he said celebrities didn't want to lend their names to a president, George W. Bush, who was not "cool."

"George Bush has done all right work with AIDS in Africa. He's really tried, but no [celebrity] is going to give him credit for that because it just doesn't feel cool," he said then. He chastised musicians for playing only to their audiences, rather than reaching out to other cultures, but also criticized the Democratic and Republican parties' "reactionary politics."

Though "Emergency & I" gave the band a degree of underground notoriety, they were best known for their high-energy, raucous shows and generally being spitfires on stage. 

The five-stop tour will promote a vinyl re-issue of that well-known album. Morrison tells The Washington Post's Click Track there's no immediate plan to reunite beyond this tour.

They have  done something similar before. In 2007, they reunited for a one-time charity show at DC's The Black Cat. 

Tour Dates, via The Post:
Jan. 21 at the Black Cat, Washington DC
Jan. 22 at the 9:30 Club, Washington DC
Jan. 27 at the Starlight Ballroom, Philadelphia
Jan. 28 at the Paradise, Boston
Jan. 29 at Webster Hall, New York

Photo: The Dismemberment Plan at the Black Cat in 2007, by flickr user kampers
Posted by Erik Maza at 6:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

Get Out: Of Montreal and Janelle Monae at 9:30 Club and No Rule at Metro Gallery

janellemonae.JPGJanelle Monae's "The ArchAndroid" is both the danciest and brainiest album of the year. A concept album inspired by Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," it marries James Brown, funk and psychedelic rock.

The post-neo-soul singer, only 25, opens for arty indie band Of Montreal tonight at DC's 9:30 club. It's a good marriage, and not just because Of Montreal lead singer Kevin Barnes guests on Monae's album.  The two are pushing the boundaries of mainstream music.

The by-now established Athens, GA band is promoting their new album "False Priest" -- in stores Tuesday -- but the real attraction tonight is Monae. Come for Of Montreal, stay for her.

After the jump, a local option at Metro Gallery, and Monae's network television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. 

Locally, DC's Will Eastman will DJ at Metro Gallery for the weekly party No Rule. The party is 21+ and free. Metro is at 1700 N. Charles St.

In May, Monae gave an insanely good performance on Late Show. 

Find Local:

Of Montreal and Janelle Monae perform at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington, DC. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Photo: Getty Images

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Get Out

Pictures: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 11

vampireweekendezra.jpgVampire Weekend fans put on their angry boat shoes to comment on my review of the band's first Maryland show at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night.

One line of the review in particular riled them up, where I say the boys are dangerously close to becoming "that band lots of white people like." Enough commenters called it racially insensitive that I feel i should say something about it. Insensitive? Far from it. As a couple of readers pointed out, it's a reference to the popular satirical book and blog "Stuff White People Like."

Still, I wonder if i should have taken it out because it distracted readers from what the review said: that for a band that bills itself as preppy punks, their show is as punk as The Jonas Brothers'.  That's not breaking news, folks.

It's vox populi that "Vampire Weekend" and "Contra" are the soundtrack to teenage privileged angst. And that's fine. There's clearly an audience for that, and there should be. But a review isn't supposed to cater to the fans; on the contrary, it's supposed to inform future ticket buyers what they might get for their buck.

With Koenig and Co. you don't get a rock show, you get something mellower, more relaxed, as limp as al dente pasta. Their sound is just as accessible as Justin Bieber's - or Katy Perry's, or Pink's, or any number of top 40 artists - yet they're written off as downmarket, less edgy, uncool.

What struck me about the show is that, for all their accolades, there's really no distinction between the two. They're both equally adorable, though maybe Bieber embraces his mass appeal with more panache.

I also wrote the review after having interviewed singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb, the man behind classics like "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I get to Phoenix." And for a man who could be easily dismissed as "stuff white people like," Webb was candid and forceful on everything from the record industry's failing business model to illegal music downloads.

My point is, readers mistook my shots at Vampire Weekend's stage reticence for a preference for showmanship and loudness. And yet, Webb's music, for all its frailty, is anything but complacent. [Check out Live! Friday for his profile].

Anyway, I'm new in town, so better than get on the wrong foot with the very appreciated local readership, I have a peace offering: a great-looking photo gallery of Saturday night's show from contributing photographer Josh Sisk.

Pictures: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 11.


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:10 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Concert Photo Gallery

Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant in South Baltimore still accepting your dollar bills

0912001400.jpgBaltimore bars come and go. Just last week, Midnight Sun reported that Tyson's Tavern, a 3-year-old bar on the Canton and Fells Point border was up for sale.

But some have been around for what feels like forever. Take Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant in South Baltimore. 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Tyson's is the history of the building where it's located. Owner Dean Zlomke says it might have been the home of the original National Brewing Company. And underneath the bar, there are still tunnels that lead to Patterson Park that were supposedly used in the War of 1812. But if the sale says anything - other than this is a crapshoot of an economy - it's that locals like character along with their history.

Schaefer's in South Baltimore has character up the wazoo.

Its liquor license was the second one ever issued by the city, and its owners say the business has been around in some form or another since the 1800s.

Here's how authentic this place is. At some point in its twisted history, Schaefer's was a stag bar, meaning only men were allowed inside. To accommodate them, a metal trough ran underneath bar just in case any of the customers had to relieve themselves. They would just unzip, and open their personal tap. And the trough is still in place, only it's now covered by lots of floorboard.

But the owners haven't stopped there. The bar has several traditions that have sort of embedded it in the fabric of the neighborhood. Before leaving, customers are encouraged to leave their mark by signing a dollar bill with a special signature. Two years ago, when our own Sam Sessa profiled the bar, he left his own by writing "EBSS,"or Eccentric Billionaire Sam Sessa, a career goal of his to be at some point referred to by that tag.

A reader passing through Baltimore on a business trip recently reminded us of Schaefer's eccentricities. He was looking for Schaefer beer, and stopped by the storied bar after reading the story. Though he complained the joint didn't actually serve Schaefer, despite its name, he was won over by its dollar bill-covered walls. Then he left his own, pictured at right.

He left the best tidbit for last: Sessa's dollar is still up on the wall.

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:57 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bar stories

September 12, 2010

Review: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Sept. 11

vampire weekend at merriweather post pavilionPreppy New Yorkers Vampire Weekend played their first concert in Maryland Saturday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion. In a brisk two-hour set where they played crowd favorites like “A-Punk” and covered Bruce Springsteen, the boys were as well-behaved as Lawrence Welk.

After local dream pop duo Beach House finished their opening set, the boys sheepishly took the stage promptly at 9:30 p.m. There was no rock star entrance here. No late arrivals, no chants from the audience screaming the band’s name in anticipation. The lights were just briefly dimmed, and the boys materialized. Where the crowd had politely received Beach House, shrieks exploded then as if Justin Bieber had been beamed in.

High school girls and suburban moms alike swooned as the band kicked off the show with “Holiday.” That's the thing about Vampire Weekend: it's-a-good-on-paper band. The kind of band you'd take home to meet your mother. They're clean dressers - big on Dockers and Adidas Sambas; went to a good school - no review of the band forgets to mention their Ivy League beginnings; and play the kind of friendly jams mom will approve of. On the Merriweather text-message JumboTron, at least one fan proposed to lead singer Ezra Koenig.

It’s easy to see their rise to the top of the charts. Parents hear their contemporaries in the band’s Peter Gabriel-Paul-Simonesque vernacular; there were a lot of moms doing the white-person-overbite shuffle last night. And young listeners hear a Dave Matthews for the aughts. With this kind of whitebread appeal, Vampire Weekend is dangerously close to becoming “that band lots of white people like.”™

[Set list after the jump.]

There were so many suburban mothers and daughters, couples and their young children, that the crowd could have easily been swapped with Bieber’s at the Maryland State Fair. The most honestly rockish moment of the night came during “A-Punk,” when the five-year-old next to me was gyrating so wildly I thought her parents might have fed her peyote buttons instead of candy corn.

Nowhere during their show did the band come near that little girl’s abandon. Is it really a rock show if there isn’t a hair out of place on the lead singer by the end of the night? If his Dockers are not sweat-stained? Yes, their playing was competent, but at the end of the day, it’s still the kind of music you’ll hear as background at Urban Outfitters; muzak for the Pitchfork set.

This was particularly clear when they covered Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m goin down,” a defensive kiss-off ballad that Vampire Weekend rendered merely moving, a song to make out to when the babysitter’s not watching.

A highlight came during "One (Blake’s got a brand new face),” when drummer Christopher Tomson whacked his sticks together and the crowd clapped along in what felt like an honest-to-god lighters in the air moment. Later, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij -profiled in the Washington Post Saturday, by the way – took second lead on a song, revealing an understated and actually, very sweet tenor. It’s a shame he doesn’t put it to use more often.

The boys have nothing to do with this, but memo to Merriweather: $6 for a hot dog - really? are these magic wieners you're selling? Reconsider, please.

In a nutshell: Lawrence Welk for the Pitchfork set.

White Sky
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
(Here, I sort of lost interest)
One (Blake's Got a Brand New Face)
I'm going down
Diplomat's Son

A complete set list should be posted by fans at later

Photo: Josh Sisk/Special to The Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:05 AM | | Comments (62)
Categories: Concert reviews

September 10, 2010

Tyson's Tavern in Fells Point up for sale, might close

tyson%27s%20tavern.JPGTyson's Tavern in Fells Point might close if owners don't find buyers, owner Dean Zlomke tells Midnight Sun.

Zlomke says the recession has slowed down business too much to justify keeping the bar open. He put it up for sale two weeks ago. If he doesn't find a buyer, the tavern might close.

"It's been a brutal summer," Zlomke says. "I'm not in a tourist area. A lot of people go away to the beach, do day trips, do other things, and for a local businesses it's been tough because of that."

Two other Fells Point bars - beloved Friends and DuClaw Brewing Company's location in the area - closed in the last year.

Zlomke and Tom Dinsmore opened Tyson's three and a half years ago, replacing a traditional British pub. They added some 30 microbrews and an expanded wine list.

The space had previously been a middle eastern restaurant, and an Italian joint before that. But 2112 Fleet Street is much more historic than that. Zlomke says it's where the original Natural Brewing Co. brewery was located.

Tyson's holds some 100 people and includes a bar and a restaurant. Zlomke's been in the hospitality business for some 30 years, and he says this is the worst summer he's ever seen.

In addition to Friends, Rafters in South Baltimore and ESPN Zone in Inner Harbor have also shut down.

Photo: Sun photog Barbara Haddock Taylor

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:14 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: News

Stabbing Thursday night at Power Plant Live after Ravens Kickoff Party

A 22-year-old male was stabbed last night at Power Plant Live shortly after the Ravens Kick-off Party ended, police say. At around 11:15 pm, the victim got into an altercation with another man inside Power Plant Live, detective Jeremy Silbert said.

The suspect, described as a white male in his "mid-20s," stabbed the victim multiple times before fleeing on foot. The victim did not immediately realize he had been stabbed, the incident report says. He was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his wounds are not life-threatening.

Police arrived on the scene shortly after a witness called 911, and they interviewed several witnesses. Silbert didn't know how many witnesses were on the scene, but the Ravens Kick-off party had just ended at 11 p.m., Power Plant Live rep Christopher Furst said. Some 2,000-3,000 people attended, according to the venue. Silbert says conversations with witnesses are ongoing.

Furst hadn't been notified of the stabbing when Midnight Sun called for comment. Sal DiGiorgio, spokesman for Power Plant Live, later e-mailed a response, saying that the incident was an "isolated altercation."

"Security personnel [sic] and BCPD were on site," DiGiorgio said. "The area welcomes millions of visitors per year to a safe atmosphere and is fully committed to ensuring the safety of all visitors."

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:06 PM | | Comments (27)

Babez for Breakfast by Eurovision winner Lordi is worst album cover of 2010

Stop the search! 2011 is still four months away, but I've already found the worst album cover of the year. It is worse than the Klaxons' LOLspacecat. It is worst than anything Ted Nugent's ever produced. It is "Babez for Breakfast" by Finnish band Lordi. 

In the cover art, if it can be called that, a flesh-toned demon baby devours a woman's  - his mother's? - bloody, heaving bosom. I imagine this is what Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones' nightmares are made up of.

I hadn't heard of Lordi until I opened my mail. Music writers get all sorts of tripe that way - just recently I got a 2-disc greatest hits album by Pantera! 

But the Finnish band is best known for winning the Eurovision contest in 2006. Their Web site doesn't name the person who so lovingly illustrated the pink gromit to your right. But all fingers point to bandleader Mr. Lordi. He is also, you see, their costume designer. 

In the comments, suggest the worst album covers you've seen this year, and I'll rank them by the end of the day. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:50 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Random stuff

September 9, 2010

Get Out: Ravens Countdown to Kickoff Party with Buckcherry

buckcherry.jpgTo kick-off NFL season, the Ravens are throwing a free Buckcherry concert at Power Plant Live tonight. Local bands Charm City Devils will open, and the Ravens cheerleaders will be hand for, err, moral support.

I know what you’re thinking -- what kind of mixed signals is Midnight Sun sending? From the preppy punks in Vampire Weekend to Ravens cheerleaders and the guys who made “Crazy B**ch.” But! the show is free, which is 100 percent cheaper than anything else happening tonight.

Plus, the band won’t be performing alone: Los Angeles-based Aussies Sick Puppies and Christian rock band Flyleaf will also perform before Buckcherry.

Power Plant Live says space is limited at the venue, so plan on getting there early. The event is 21 and over only.Doors open at 5 p.m. Power Plant is at 34 Market Place.

Photo: Buckcherry
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:21 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Get Out

Vampire Weekend's top five covers: Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, and more

In what promises to be a hipster shangri-la, Merriweather Post Pavilion will host both Vampire Weekend and local dream pop duo Beach House on Saturday.

In anticipation of the show, here's a list of the top five covers by Vampire Weekend. The preppy New Yorkers are known for their infatuation with Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon. But lately lead singer Ezra Koenig has been totally girl-crushing on Bruce Springsteen. So much so that they covered The Boss' "I'm goin' down," from "Born in the U.S.A." at a show in August.

Well, last week the band went further and actually recorded the  song for Seattle's 107.7.

For the badge-wearing fan who's already played "Contra" to death, the list should introduce you to weirder stuff you probably haven't heard yet. And if you don't like Vampire Weekend, you can listen to pretty decent simulacra of some of your favorite bands' songs:

5. "I'm Goin' Down by Bruce Springsteen

4. "Exit Music (For a Film)" by Radiohead

3. "Ruby Soho" by Rancid

2 ."Someone's Going to Die" by Blitz

1. "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:50 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Listicles

September 8, 2010

Get Out: The Bridge at The 8X10 tonight


Local jam band The Bridge's show tonight at The 8X10 tonight is the Get Out pick of the day.

For their last three albums, The Bridge hasn't ventured much outside Baltimore. But for their latest they reached out to Steve Berlin, a member of the Grammy-winning band Los Lobos. 

Sam Sessa profiled the band a couple of weeks ago in one of the last stories he reported. Band members talked about the new work then, but tonight at the Federal Hill venue they'll show off what they've been working on. 

Get Out will be a daily post that highlights our choice for the best event of the night. 

Doors at The 8X10 open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. The venue is at 8-10 E. Cross St.

Photo: Alicia Rose, handout photo

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:08 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Beach House's Victoria Legrand on The xx's Mercury Prize Win

beach%20house.JPGMoody British goths The xx won the vaunted Mercury Prize for their debut album yesterday.

It just so happened we were on the phone with Victoria Legrand of Beach House when the announcement was made, and we asked her for some thoughts. For starters, what's the Mercury Prize anyway? "It's a big deal," Legrand says.

The prize, given annually to British and Irish music only, has gone to standard-bearers like Pulp and Portishead in the past. This year, The xx beat Dizzee Rascal and Paul Weller.

Beach House and The xx have been touring since the beginning of the year, and inevitably they've coincided on a bunch of dates. They played Glastonbury in June, and will be at Austin City Limits in October...

Since their debut, British music mags have fawned all over The xx for their moody arrangements. Legrand described their music as "fragile yet powerful."

"What they do is definitely fresh," she says. "It's highly stripped down, not over-produced. I like the simplicity of it."

Sounds like something someone might say about Beach House. The band opens for Vampire Weekend Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavillion.  Look out for our review.

The xx play DC's 9:30 club October 5.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Usher's OMG Tour at 1st Mariner Arena Dec. 8

usher!Pop star Usher announced his Fall 'OMG Tour' today. He'll kick it off in Seattle in November, and stop by Baltimore and Washington DC in December.

The 25-city tour will be at Baltimore's Mariner Arena on December 8, and DC's Verizon Center December 17.

The original lady killer will be promoting "Versus," an extension of his "Raymond v. Raymond" album. Hard to say how anticipated the tour is, but Jive Music, Usher's label, could afford to announce the tour with a brief "OMG" on twitter. No hashtags or anything. Gutsy move, Jive.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 17. For a preview, Usher will be performing at Sunday's VMA Awards on MTV.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:01 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: News

Concert Review: Lady Gaga at Verizon Center

lady gaga performs at the verizon centerMidnight Sun alumnus Sam Sessa saw Lady Gaga at the Verizon Center last night. Here are his thoughts:

If Brit Brit is still the reigning Pop Princess, Lady Gaga is her rebellious little sister.

At 24, Lady Gaga has sold more than 15 million albums and 51 million singles worldwide and tapped into the mainstream and gay and lesbian communities while scoring several top 10 singles.

All this with only two albums, both released in the past two years.

Last night, Lady Gaga's sold-out Monster Ball tour, a tantalizingly trashy two-hour spectacle of outrageous costumes, sexually charged dances and irresistible dance pop, rolled into Washington's Verizon Center.

The live band was tight, but the costumes were tighter ...

Lady Gaga champions the gay rights movement and encourages fans to celebrate themselves for who they are. It's a positive message in a polarized nation. Last night, she laid it all out there, over and over again. 

"I didn't use to be brave," she said. "In fact, I wasn't very brave at all. But you have made me brave, little monsters, so I'm going to be brave for you."

Gaga's passion for equal rights was genuine and heartfelt (she even seemed on the verge of tears a couple times), but she brought it up after every other song. That was my only real complaint with the show -- Gaga got a little heavy-handed and repetitive with her message, which slowed things down. Otherwise, it was one hell of a show.

lady gaga gets all clawy and stuff. reeeeeeer!The Monster Ball pairs theatrics with real talent. Lady Gaga sings live -- a feat few other pop stars of her status can pull off in concert -- and plays keyboards and piano. And Gaga knows how to get a crowd hot and bothered. For the first song, "Dance in the Dark," she stayed behind a scrim while her larger-than-life shadow was projected in front of her. She sang most of the song that way, striking poses and teasing the audience.

When the screen lifted, there was Lady Gaga, in all her glory (and not much else): a skin-tight leopard print leotard and black boots. It was the first in a series of bizarre outfits, which ranged from spark-shooting bra and thong to a flowing white fairy dress with a long train and a motorized headpiece. My personal favorite was the leather cape and getup which looked like Darth Vader at Mardi Gras.

While Gaga swapped outfits, surrealistic videos (one of Gaga eating a bloody human heart, another of a model vomiting sparkly blue liquid on Gaga) played on the video screens. Yum!

The set, which changed several times, included a beat up car with a keyboard under its hood (Gaga played it), film noir-ish neon signs, a giant angler fish puppet,  fountain and a flaming statue and piano, among other affects. Lady Gaga tickled the ivories for two ballads, "Speechless" and a hard-edged new song called "You and I."

Lady Gaga's first hit, "Just Dance," came a few songs into the set. The show was back-loaded with her more recent singles "Alejandro," "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance." She's had so many singles in such a short time, its hard to keep track of them all.

Live, the pulsing beat of "Telephone" throbbed with fresh intensity, and the scorching synth hook of "LoveGame" had fists pumping. Though Lady Gaga isn't as talented a dancer as, say, Britney Spears, her singing and crew of skilled backup dancers carried the night.

Lady Gaga's guitarist, Jesus, was a shirtless, musclebound guy with long locks and a penchant for shredding. All he ever did was fire off wailing solos with lots of notes. But at a show like this one, would you expect any less? 

The show started at 9:20 p.m. and ended at 11:30 p.m.

Here is the set list:

Dance in the Dark
Glitter and Grease
Just Dance
Beautiful Dirty Rich
The Fame
Boys Boys Boys
Money Honey
You and I (new song)
So Happy I Could Die
Poker Face

Bad Romance

(Baltimore Sun photos by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:25 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Concert reviews

September 7, 2010

New nightlife reporter Erik Maza tries to buy sunscreen, gets flat tire on first day

eiufz9hp94eiph4f.jpgThe first day at a new job is usually fraught with alarm, sweat-stains, disorientation. Not me. As Sessa wrote earlier, I'll be your new live music and nightlife reporter.

For my first day on the gig, I woke up eerily prepared. I ironed my shirt, didn't drop cereal on my pants, even added a dimple to my tie. Notes? Check. AP Style Book 2008 edition? Check. Missing from my to do list was some sunscreen. You know what they say: moisturize, moisturize. It was 7 a.m. and I didn't have to be in the newsroom for another two hours, so I drove to the nearest Rite Aid to my digs to be totally spiffed up for the office.

Ah, Greenmount Avenue in the morning. As I'm parking, BANG! PFFF! Had I been shot? It's only been a week, Baltimore! Turns out I'd driven too close to the curb and punctured my tire. Two hours before work. Great. Greenmount and 32nd St. -- just where you want to be with a pooped car. Did I mention I hadn't ever changed a tire before? Or that I'm the nightlife reporter, what in the world do I need sunscreen for? Que Sera Sera. This was my welcome.

Before coming here, I was a reporter at another whacko news town: Miami ...

In the land of leopard prints and the three horsemen of the apocalypse -- Lebron, Wade and Bosh -- I wrote cover stories on the little-known subculture of Cuban punk and Miami's merry band of deadbeat gamblers. I blogged on everything from why Marina Abramovic makes rich people cry to a top ten strippers list inspired by the New Yorker's 20 under 40 list. I might have also blogged about "Avatar" once or twice, and how it delighted gays and upset communists

So why leave all that? Well, about three years ago Dan Deacon came to Gainesville, where I went to school. He hadn't become a Pitchfork darling yet, and there were maybe 50 people at the cavernous Common Grounds. Deacon, noticing the joint half empty, decides the only course of action is a dance-off, with him leading the charge. I hadn't seen another chubby white person dance so well since I saw Beth Ditto get down with The Gossip. In my mind, that was Baltimore: dance-offs, John Waters and Bubbles from "The Wire." My first week in town has only made me like it more.

I rode the circulator. Drank cheap beer at The Ottobar, and apparently missed John Waters by a hair. At Red Emma's, got accosted by crusty punk kids pushing their latest zines. And the other day stopped by what may be the greatest hair salon ever: Nappee by Nature, on York Road.

As a reporter in Features, everything interests me (see prior clips for reference), and not just stuff related to nightlife or live music. Send me tips, suggestions, alerts to the next warehouse party, new bar, or Nappee by Nature. I'm at And remember kids, screw sunscreen.

[Twitter Midnight Sun]

(Photo from Who's Dated)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:47 PM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Random stuff

Exciting news!!

happy day dinerDoes that headline sound familiar?

Elizabeth Large, our former food critic, was a mentor to me, so when it came time for me to step down from Midnight Sun I wanted to tip my hat to her.

Yes, after five years covering Baltimore's arts, music and nightlife scene, I am taking on a new role here at the paper: entertainment editor. Well, the actual title is something corporate-y, like Content Editor, Features Dept., but 'entertainment editor' sounds better to me.

Erik Maza, an incredibly talented reporter from Miami, will be our new local entertainment reporter and blogger.

No, this isn't my final post on Midnight Sun. I'll be phasing Erik in during the next week or two. I'll also be editing his stories. So you're not totally rid of me yet ...

Why would I possibly give up reviewing bars and clubs and interviewing musicians? As glamorous as this job sounds, I'm fried. Lately, I find myself putting too many commas in my copy. I think it's because my inner voice is tired and needs a rest.

Believe it or not, going out two or three times a week gets old after five years. I'm ready to start a new phase of my life, which I'm calling "couch time." I'll no longer be editing and publishing blog comments on my phone in the bathroom, at a restaurant or any other random times and places -- something Amie will appreciate, I'm sure.

I can't begin to tell you how much fun it's been hosting Midnight Sun. Nothing has helped me more as a writer than this here bloggy. Since Midnight Sun started three years ago, we've been stood up by Eddie Vedder, learned about Little Havana and the MIZOD and poked fun at some dude named Chris Sligh (I still chuckle when I think about Sligh). I've published more than 2,800 posts and approved more than 28,000 comments. And now that Erik's here, Midnight Sun will be in great hands.

I'll miss Midnight Sun, but more than writing, I'll miss the conversations we've had over the years.

I'm trying not to cry right now. It's hard.

Sniffle sniffle.

(Baltimore Sun photo of Happy Day Diner, because today is my happy day, by Gene Sweeney Jr.)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:57 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: News

Everything that's right -- and wrong -- with America

kfc!Obviously, this has nothing to do with nightlife, but I drove past this KFC the other day and had to snap a photo.

God bless America.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:31 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

September 6, 2010

I survived Justin Bieber at the State Fair

'sha boy, JB!They should make T-shirts with that logo on it. I'd wear one, and I'll bet half the parents who were at the Maryland State Fairgrounds last night for Bieber-mania would, too.

Bieber fever is real, folks. My ears still hurt from all the screaming. And I woke up with his hit "Baby" stuck in my head.

I had two stories in today's paper, a scene piece about people at the fair, and a Bieber concert review. And here's a photo gallery from the show, courtesy of Sun photog Gene Sweeney Jr.

For some reason, Bieber kept dashing off back stage between songs and then reappearing a minute or two later. Meanwhile, an a capella group would sing some pop hits, or the video screens would display a montage of Bieber photos and video. Then he would pop back out -- sometimes in a new outfit, sometimes not -- and play another song. It felt like Bieber was a guest at his own show. Bieber sang most of his songs, and lip-synched one or two ...

Of course, none of this mattered to the throng of 12,500 shrieking teenagers and their parents. They were pumped just to be in the same zip code as the pop phenom.

This wasn't my best review (due to print deadlines, I only had 30 minutes to write it), but at least it's finished. If you were at the fair yesterday, I was the dude sitting on the grass to the side, hunched over a laptop, furiously typing. I would have written more on my phone, but it got cold around 9:30 p.m., and it was hard for me to hit the little buttons with frigid fingers.

OK, back to holiday chilling. Happy Labor Day, everybody!

(Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:02 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

September 5, 2010

Justin Bieber's DJ is from Bel Air, and other fun facts

dj tay jamesJustin Bieber's show tonight at the Maryland State Fairgrounds will be homecoming for his DJ, Taylor James.

James, 23, has been touring with Bieber ever since the boy wonder broke out last year. He's been chased by mobs of screaming teens, and had a front row seat for Bieber fever.

I profiled James, aka DJ Tay James, in today's paper. He came up interning at Baltimore Club label Unruly Records, and later spun for parties at the megaclub Love in Washington.

Over the phone, James seemed down to earth, despite all the craziness he has to deal with every day ...

At one show in Sacremento, Calif., a fan hurled what everyone thought was a water bottle, which hit Bieber in the head. It wasn't actually a water bottle -- it was a pack of Sour Patch Kids, one of Beiber's favorite candies. The band picked it up, tore it open and ate it.

James' YouTube channel, which has almost 3 million views, has some great Bieber moments.

If you're wondering, I'll be at the fairgrounds this evening, interviewing some of the 12,000 Bieber-heads who are going to tonight's show. If I'm not back by tomorrow, send a six-pack of Loose Cannon after me.

(Handout photo by Robert Caplin)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:39 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

September 4, 2010

Review: Funky Buddha and other basement bars

funky buddhaIn yesterday's paper, I reviewed Funky Buddha, the cool little basement bar which replaced Liam's Pint-Size Pub in Kumari's basement.

The happy hour prices stunned me and jmgiordano, who met me there. Between the two of us, we ordered three appetizers, two Heavy Seas Pale Ales (which tasted like they'd been sitting there a little while and lost some fizz) and two stiff Skyy Vodka and cranberries. The bill -- with tip -- was about $30.


By itself, Funky Buddha is nothing special. But manager Bonnie Roberts' warm, steady presence there pulls the bar together ...

I chuckled at the sandwich sign in the window, which spelled it Funky Budda, and the rinky-dink outdoor table and chairs. But hey, one table and chairs is better than nothing.

Funky Buddha got me thinking about other great basement bars in and around Baltimore. I couldn't think of more than a handful, and profiled three of my favorites: Dionysus, Venice Tavern and Quarry House.

What am I missing? There have got to be more than four or five. Brewer's Art counts, but we write about that place all the time. Can you think of any others?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:36 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 3, 2010

Did GoodLife Boys send buses to Mosaic last night? Maybe.

a bus parked outside Port DiscoveryAfter all the controversy stirred up by my earlier post about the event promoters sending buses of college students to Mosaic, I felt a follow-up was in order.

I wasn't able to make it to Power Plant Live last night to see whether or not the GoodLife Boys brought buses near the downtown entertainment district as planned. And the GoodLife Boys couldn't be reached for comment today. But I did get a message from the event's Facebook page at 5:25 p.m. yesterday, which made it sound like the party was still on:


An anonymous tipster sent me this photograph of a bus parked in back of Port Discovery, the adjacent children's museum across President Street (that's Port Discovery, the children's museum, in the background). The tipster said this was one of a few buses parked there. But, as Power Plant Live's spokesman Chris Furst (rightfully) pointed out, this one photo doesn't prove anything.

"That could have been any group," he said. "People use buses for millions of events. There's nothing I can do. It's not on our property." ...

me!Whether or not it was a bus full of college students, this whole ordeal raises a good point: To what length are clubs responsible for trips like this? If an event promoter organizes a college night and buses in students from area schools but drops them off two blocks from a club (against the club's knowledge), is that the club's responsibility? 

I also got forwarded a text message -- with a photo -- which was, according to my tipster, sent to Power Plant Live security guards last night:

this is the guy from the sun. he might have glasses and a slight beard. he's not here yet.

Wow! I'm not sure whether to be flattered or freaked out by this.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:07 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: News

Review: The Tap-a-Cap Bottle opener

tap-a-capEarlier this week, a conspicuous package arrived in the mail. It turned out to be a Tap-a-Cap Bottle Opener, courtesy of Pickled Parrot owner Gerry Balog. Great googley-moogley!

I first found out about these things a few months ago. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd have one of my own. You're a miracle worker, Gerry.*

Eager to test this amazing device, I dashed home. Editor Swift tried to follow me, yelling something about a deadline, but I outran him.

The genius of the Tap-a-Cap is that it not only removes the bottle cap, but it has a little magnet on the side which captures the cap. I don't know about you, but I've lost whole minutes of my life searching for rogue bottle caps.

Once home, I set the Tap-a-Cap atop a bottle of suds and gently but firmly pressed down ...

I heard a light click and the gentle release of carbonation. But when I pulled up the Tap-a-Cap, the cap was still in place.


I tried it again, pressing down harder. This time, it worked, and I was left with an open bottle and a cap dangling from the Tap-a-Cap. 

Thirsty for another go, I quickly drank the beer and tried it again. And again. 

After numerous field tests, the Midnight Sun Laboratory has concluded: 60 percent of the time, the Tap-a-Cap works every time.

(Crappy cell phone photo by me)

*Midnight Sun does not condone Balog's alleged stabbing. I have yet to get a hold of Balog over the phone to discuss the incident, but I'm still pursuing it with earnest.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:04 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Drink-ology

September 2, 2010

FMEB: WTMD's 1st Thursdays

Iellen cherryn but a few hours, you can be treated to the soulful, authentic sounds of the Holmes Brothers, along with the acoustic stylings of Baltimore singer/songwriter Ellen Cherry (pictured).

In a classic case of Free Makes Everything Better, tonight is the next-to-last installment of WTMD's First Thursday Concerts in the Park. 

Cherry goes on at 5:30 p.m., and the Holmes brothers will follow.

The show is held in West Mount Vernon Park, right by the Washington Monument.

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:08 PM | | Comments (0)

Wild Willy's to open in Annapolis

Wild Willy's Rock House & Sports Saloon is set to open Sept. 18 near the Annapolis Towne Center.

The restaurant/bar, which will have live rock 'n' roll and country music on Fridays and Saturdays, will replace TK Sharky's, according to Courtney Smith, who is handling marketing for Wild Willy's. The new owner, Willy Koutroumpis, renovated the space and brought in a rock 'n' roll theme ...

The servers, called Wild Girls, will perform choreographed dance routines sporadically over the course of the night, Smith said. The stage has the largest projection screen in Annapolis, which spans the entire length of the back stage, Smith said.

I'm planning on speaking with Koutroumpis and posting some photos and details later today.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:56 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

Red Hill Tavern could open Saturday

According to Captain Larry's owner Ivars Balodis, the Red Hill Tavern, which replaced Rafters, will open this Saturday. I haven't been able to confirm this with Red Hill Tavern's owners, because they won't return my calls. I'll let you know as soon as I hear something substantial. Also -- Red Hill Tavern owners, if you're reading this, call me at 410.332.6689.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:37 AM | | Comments (6)

September 1, 2010

Septimius The Great's Artscape performance video

Though Nikc posted a link to this video under the original Septimius the Great thread, I thought it deserved its own special little spotlight.

Septimius The Great did indeed perform at this year's Artscape Festival, and what a spectacle it was.

There were three -- not two, not four, but three -- dancers who performed a choreographed routine. Septimius himself was front and center, in a body length white cape, singing (lip-synching, perhaps?) one of his singles. Check it out ...

I love how, near the beginning, he asks, "Y'all ready, Baltimore?" and you can practically hear the crickets chirping. They were just cowed into silence by his magnificence, I'm sure.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:44 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

Promoters busing students to Power Plant Live for "College Night" (updated)

Promoters are once again busing in students from area schools for a weekly "College Night" at Mosaic, a lounge in Power Plant Live.

The event, called Thursday Night Banger, is run by the local event promoter GoodLife Boys. It began last week, and the next one is set for tomorrow.

"We take a bunch of college kids and bring them out there," said GoodLife Boys co-owner Nino Sylvia.

"Towson, Loyola, Hopkins -- we've got all the students coming out there. ... The ratio of girls to guys is ridiculous." ...

Power Plant Live has had a strict anti-busing policy since 2006, when the entertainment zone canceled its once-popular College Nights after numerous citations for underage drinking and pressure from advocacy groups. Power Plant Live spokesman Chris Furst was unaware of Mosaic's event, he said.

"We absolutely don't permit it," Furst said. "We're completely against busing them down. ... We're trying to get away from the whole college image." 

Mosaic's College Night is strictly 21+, Sylvia said, and last week's event sold out.

UPDATE: Furst stressed that this night has nothing to do with Power Plant Live, and none of Power Plant Live's staff is promoting it as a college night.

"We don't permit buses," he said. "If it's a matter of that event being canceled, absolutely. ... Mosaic does not hold a college night. Power Plant Live does not hold a college night."

ANOTHER UPDATE: I also spoke with Jake Miller, Mosaic's regional manager, who said the club knew nothing about the buses and emphasized that Mosaic only admits patrons who are 21 and older.

"It's not a college night," he said. "It's the furthest thing from a college night. ... We had nothing to do with this."

(Baltimore Sun photo of a woman at Mosaic by Lloyd Fox)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:00 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Virgin Mobile FreeFest lineup additions

Maximum Balloon (Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio), Sharam and Wolfgang Gartner have been added to this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest lineup, organizers announced today.

They will perform in the Dance Forest, one of three stages at the free festival, which returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 25.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:22 AM | | Comments (0)

Canton Arts and Entertainment opens again! Sort of.

some dudes chilling at canton arts and entertainmentIt's hard to keep a big bar down.

Canton Arts and Entertainment, the sprawling restaurant/bar complex/compound on Boston Street which closed for renovations, is back open again -- for private parties only.

CAE, as I shall now call it (because I'm sick of spelling that all out), could reopen full time if its application for a live entertainment license is approved.

Getting to the bottom of this whole ordeal was almost as labyrinthine as CAE itself. Take a deep breath and let's dive in together, gang ...

Richard Kraus, who owns Mara & Maru LLC, a partner company in the CAE business venture, wants to have rock, jazz and other live music upstairs at CAE, according to his lawyer, Tom Maronick, Jr.

"It's been very, very well received by members of the community," Maronick said.

CAE has no interest in hosting "urban parties," Maronick said. Kraus has been renovating the upstairs to make it more live music- and neighborhood-friendly -- such as installing "noise resistant windows."

"They've been changing the concept, trying to get things more focused," Maronick said.

Yesterday, CAE postponed its live entertainment license hearing with the liquor board to further address community concerns, according to Mel Kodenski, a lawyer which has been handling the live entertainment applications.

Yes, CAE has two lawyers. Maybe more.

CAE's new liquor board hearing should be in a couple weeks, Kodenski said.

(This photo, by Midnight Sunner Shankman, is one of the only known photos to exist of CAE. Pictured, the Midnight Sons stand inside My Generation, CAE's bar. It had a fountain.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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